|INSTRUMENT MUSEUM||12/23/97||Page 4 of 11|
|Novax Fanned-Fret Guitars|
| Ralph Novak has been called “the bay area’s most innovative guitar designer”, because of his unusual-looking fanned fretboard. But it’s not just a new look. Proponents (including player Allan Holdsworth) have found that the positioning comes quickly, and that certain chords are more easily fretted.
The purpose of the fretboard design is to give better sound – a sweeter tone. Here’s how Novak explains it â€¦
“Scale lengths have recognizable attributes – a voice. Since guitar sound originates with the string and scale length governs all aspects of that string’s voice, then scale length essentially controls the tone of the guitar. The physical and electrical components only modify what originates at the string. They cannot add anything.”
According to Guitar Player (May 1991), if you play on this fretboard, you’ll “immediately hear a remarkable difference in the sound. Each note within the chord seems more distinct and focussed in comparison to a standard, single-scale fretboard.”
The way it works is that each string of a specific diameter will sound best at a certain scale length. Since strings across the fretboard are in different diameters, they sound best if you give each string a different scale length. This improves the overall tone, and each string then has a larger ‘sweet spot’ – that area where you like to play because it just sounds so good!
The Novak Multi-Scale Fingerboard is the patented invention of luthier Ralph Novak. As quoted in Guitar Player (October 1989), Novak explains that the special fretboard is a way of combining the best features of short-scale and long-scale guitars in one instrument.
“Shorter-scale instruments, such as the Fender Mustang or Gibson SG, are favored for ease of bending treble strings. They have sweeter trebles because of pronounced midrange harmonic sustain. However, these guitars suffer poor bass-string definition â€¦ On the other hand, longer-scale guitars, such as the Fender Stratocaster, offer crisp bass-string response â€¦ but the the treble strings lack midrange harmonic sustain.”
Novak’s fretboard addresses these problems by making the bass string longer, and the melody strings shorter.
There you have it. Long and low. Short and sweet.
novax fanned-fret guitars
19 dutton avenue
san Leandro, california 94577
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